A report just published by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has predicted that Ireland is set for the sharpest fall in economic growth experienced by an industrialised country since the Great Depression, with an estimated fall of 9.2 per cent this year in gross national product.

It expects to see the average number of jobs to fall by 187,300 this year as against last year, suggesting an average unemployment rate of 13.2 per cent. By 2010 the ESRI has predicted a 3 per cent drop in wages as well as 16.8 per cent unemployment.

According to the report: "Prior to this the largest decline for an industrialised country since the 1930s had been in Finland, where real gross domestic product declined by 11 per cent between 1990 and 1993."

Dr Alan Barrett, one of the authors of the report, has blamed the "severe recession" on the fact that Ireland is a very exposed economy and has allowed housing and construction to dominate its domestic economy.

The institute praised the Irish government's recent budgets describing them as "important and broadly positive in effect". However it warned against further income tax increases, stating that moves to cut public expenditure would be preferable.

It seems too that Ireland's history of emigration is set to be repeated once more with predictions of a net annual departure of approximately 30,000 young people over the course of the next year.